Picture this…

A musical act you love is coming to town and you are absolutely stoked!

You buy your ticket, show up early, and grab your place on the floor.

The band (whom you paid dearly to watch) strikes the first note of their song, looking cool and wonderful and amazing on stage. It’s everything you hoped it would be.

Then, ‘it’ happens.

Your view of the band is gone, replaced by a row of glowing goddamned rectangles.

The smart phones have invaded.

Live music (viewing) is dead

Call it a gripe from an old man, or a poignant commentary on the state of music today, but the way we take in live shows has taken a turn for the worse.

I’m not suggesting fans aren’t going to live shows – pick any given venue on any given night and you’ll find supporters aplenty. But plenty of people (you know who they are) don’t really appreciate the ‘live’ aspect, or even realize what the word means.

This is a photo I took at the Kittie show in October. Note the dead zone behind the people with their phones out.
This is a photo I took at the Kittie show in October. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see all the members playing on stage in one night… Why not watch through a phone, right?

Their eyes aren’t on the stage.

Rather, they are focused solely on their phones, recording the performance or live posting it instead of actually enjoying the experience.

What’s the point?

You have this great, one-of-a-kind experience mere metres away from you and yet, somehow, that’s not good enough. Why not?

It’s great to be able to share something wonderful with others on social media, or relive a memory, but what about what’s right in front of you? What about the people behind you, or the artists that are trying to sell their recorded music?

This is a crummy crowd shot I took at Winter Spectacular this December. Note the absence of glowing people. This was a good crowd.
This is a crummy crowd shot I took at Winter Spectacular this December. Note the absence of glowing people. This was a good audience.

I write this as a photographer and as a music lover.

Being a legitimate (read: paid) photographer is frustrating because no matter how much you love the music, you can’t really enjoy it when you’re obsessing over getting ‘the shot’.

Conversely, when watching live music – when I actually pay to be at a show – I get to shift the focus from what’s in the frame to what’s in front of me. If all I can see are phones in the air, it’s infuriating.

It’s sad to see people who are unable to actually live in the moment.

Worlds apart

The whole experience becomes tainted when phones are involved. It immediately puts a barrier between yourself and whatever is in front of you.

That detachment means something.

This is a photo I took of Reuben Bullock of Reuben and the Dark at Rum Runners on March 20. It was a great show - they sounded awesome - but I didn't really get to take it all in because I was photographing it.
This is a photo I took of Reuben Bullock of Reuben and the Dark at Rum Runners on March 20. It was a great show – they sounded awesome – but I didn’t really get to take it all in because I was photographing it.

It means you don’t really enjoy the show. It means fans in the back who want to see the show have to work around a sea of glowing boxes to catch sight of the act they paid to watch.

It means pirating music and taking money away from the artists.

As for those who will watch the footage online after (or during) the show – buy a ticket, or buy the album. The audio quality will be way better than a compressed phone video.

So where does that leave us?

Probably in the same place we’re at right now. But if you or someone you know pulls out a smartphone the second the band starts, you have my permission to slap them (or slap yourself).

Go ahead and mosh.

Double fist drinks.

Drop some acid and dance the night away.

But please, keep the goddamned phone in your pocket and enjoy – truly enjoy – the show.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

four × 1 =